Death Mage 208 – A peaceful week for the Demon King

 

Isaac Morksi, the current Earl Morksi, was in a bad mood.

Two days ago, a mysterious incident had occurred in the Communal Church… A facility for believers to pray to the statues of multiple great gods and their subordinate gods with many followers. Isaac had been busy the entirety of the previous day investigating this incident and making plans for the near future.

A part of Alda’s statue had suddenly broken, and a devout priest of Alda had lost consciousness. An unserious, foolish noble would have attributed these to the statue degrading and the priest’s poor health, but Isaac was dealing with the incident seriously.

He had asked for the cooperation of the priests of the gods other than Alda from the Communal Church, the Guild Master of the Mages’ Guild, the Guild Master of the Adventurers’ Guild and the mage who was personally employed by his family of earls. It was no exaggeration to say that all of Morksi’s intelligent individuals had gathered to help him with this.

But it was difficult to say that their joint investigation and discussions were very fruitful.

The cause of the incident was likely not in the city, anywhere in the Morksi domain or even anywhere in the Orbaume Kingdom. They had concluded that something had likely happened to the gods… In particular, to Alda, the god of law and fate, and Curatos, the god of records.

They had concluded this, but… at the same time, they had come to the conclusion that there was nothing to be done about it.

Isaac was one of the more powerful nobles in the Alcrem Duchy. A city of commerce was in his domain, and he had faith in his economic power. The army that he employed was considerably powerful.

However, he was still but a human. He was no hero who could intervene in the affairs of the gods and solve their problems, nor did he know of any such heroes.

Thus, he had no way of knowing if similar incidents would occur again in the future.

What Isaac and his subordinates could do was calm the people and tell them that no more anomalous events would occur, while also making preparations to take control over the situation quickly if such events did occur again.

The only other thing they could do was prepare backup statues to replace broken ones. Statues of gods were not merely statues; they had the role of delivering the people’s worship and prayers to the gods.

This seemed to be why the statues were affected when something happened to the gods. The scriptures containing the gods’ holy symbols, decorative patterns and teachings also served the same role, but Isaac and his subordinates assumed that the statues of the gods were most easily affected.

These were all conjectures, but it couldn’t be helped that they could only make conjectures and assumptions. There was no way for mortals to know of the affairs of gods.

However, according to their conjectures and assumptions, statues that the people’s worship and prayers were not directed at were unlikely to be damaged in the event that something happened to the gods.

That was why Isaac had ordered masons to build backup statues of every statue at the Communal Church to prepare for the possibility of a similar incident occurring again. These statues would be covered with cloths and kept in warehouses until they were needed. With this decided, Isaac had ended the meeting with his subordinates.

If this incident has occurred across the entire nation, no, the entirety of the Bahn Gaia continent, masons and sculptors are going to make a killing, Isaac had thought as he went to bed late at night.

Of course, he had asked his housekeeper to wake him up later than usual.

But Isaac had been awoken at the same time as always, and was now glaring discontentedly at his housekeeper.

“… It seems that it is still early,” he said curtly.

“My apologies, Master. There is a serious matter that requires your attention,” the housekeeper said.

“A serious matter? Are you going to tell me that Vida’s statues have broken next?” said Isaac, still half-asleep as he allowed his maids to dress him.

“No, there has been a report… A Dhampir has appeared in the city of Morksi,” the housekeeper said.

“I see, a Dhampir has appeared. That is a serious matter indeed… Wait, what?! Is Miss Selen staying here?!” Isaac exclaimed, his eyes suddenly opening wide.

The only known Dhampir in the Orbaume Kingdom was Selen; he assumed that she was staying in the city.

As she was a member of a rare race, she was born with the fate of being targeted by Vampires and Alda’s radical faction, and although there were some things about her that drew sympathy, she was a mere commoner.

However, although her guardians had spent over a year inside a Dungeon, they were Heinz and his party, who were S-class adventurers and honorary nobles.

If some kind of trouble occurred during Selen’s stay and something were to happen to her… The very thought was terrifying.

If such an individual was staying in Isaac’s city without his permission, it was a serious matter indeed.

“No, the Dhampir in question is not Miss Selen. According to the report from employees at the Commerce Guild, it is a young boy named Vandalieu Zakkart,” said the housekeeper.

“What? So, there is another Dhampir… Wait, there are many things that I don’t understand. Leaving aside his name, he has a surname? And it’s Zakkart?” asked Isaac.

In many of the nations in this world, only royals and nobles used surnames; commoners did not have them. It was not forbidden in the Orbaume Kingdom for commoners to use surnames, but… people who did were either pathetic individuals pretending to be nobles, or descendants of noble families who refused to admit their house’s ruin, or swindlers.

So then, why did this Dhampir have a surname, the name of the ‘Fallen Champion’ Zakkart at that?

“Why? There is no way that this name would be displayed on his Status… If he is a fanatical worshiper of Zakkart, he may be dangerous,” Isaac said. “No, wait, what was a Dhampir doing at the Commerce Guild in the first place?”

“It seems that he visited with his mother, a Dark Elf, to make a temporary registration. Nobody checked his Status for the temporary registration,” said the housekeeper.

“It is also a little surprising that his mother is a Dark Elf… A temporary registration? … Why?”

“It seems that he intends to make a living selling grilled skewers at a food cart, of all things.”

“Selling grilled skewers with his mother… A Dark Elf mother and a Dhampir child. Is it not possible that the mother is a swindler who is simply making use of her child that happened to be born with odd-colored eyes, or is making him wear an artificial eye?” Isaac suggested.

“No, the receptionist in charge apparently confirmed that there are claws growing from the boy’s fingertips. He is unmistakably a Dhampir,” said the housekeeper.

“I see… What did this Dhampir do after he completed his temporary registration? Did he visit the Adventurers’ Guild? Did he not seek someone’s protection?” Isaac asked.

“According to the report… he purchased charcoal and meat at a store to be used at his food cart. After that, he purchased a single house with a questionable history that was recommended to him by the Guild, and is now operating his food cart at his designated position in a back alley that connects the red-light district to the slum quarter,” the housekeeper reported. “It seems that he has not visited the Adventurers’ Guild or sought out anyone to protect him. However, he has made contact with the man known as the ‘Starving Wolf.’”

After listening to what Vandalieu had been doing yesterday, Isaac frowned.

“… Apart from that last part, it’s all so bizarre that I don’t know what to make of it,” he muttered.

He couldn’t comprehend any of Vandalieu’s actions, and this made his mood worse.

Isaac thought that a Dhampir child would be weak, with people aiming to take his life. Indeed, even after coming under the protection of the Five-colored Blades, Selen had been targeted by Vampires on many occasions, as well as kidnappers hired by illegal slave traders and nobles with perverse desires.

That was why Isaac thought that the most plausible options for a Dhampir boy to take after coming to the city of Morksi, would be to seek the protection of the lord of the region, Isaac himself, or trustworthy organizations such as Churches or the Adventurers’ Guild. Either that, or he could conceal his identity.

The boy seemed to have kept quiet about the fact that he was a Dhampir when he entered the city, after all. However, Vandalieu had gone to the Commerce Guild of all places, and revealed what he was.

The Commerce Guild was not exactly a breeding ground for crime, but… it was not an organization that one would consider asking for protection from the threat of Vampires.

And the Dhampir boy had not even sought protection at all; he had made a temporary registration and started a food cart business of all things. On top of that, he’d possessed enough funds to purchase an entire house. No matter how cheap the house was, he would have been able to live in a cheap inn for several years with that money.

“To summarize, a Dhampir who names himself with the surname ‘Zakkart,’ who appears to have no financial problems in his everyday life for the foreseeable future, has started a food cart business with his Dark Elf mother. If you weren’t the one reporting it, I wouldn’t believe you,” said Isaac. “So, do we know why the ‘Starving Wolf’ has made contact with him?”

The ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael was the man who had recently appeared at the top of the city’s underworld. As lord of the realm, Isaac believed that he should be cautious about him. Not because Miles was probably thinking of some outrageous scheme, but because he was so far above the position he held.

Analysis of the information gathered by his subordinates told Isaac that Michael’s strength was at least that of a B-class adventurer, and yet for some reason, he was merely the boss of a group of thugs. If he desired, he could have been appointed as a knight, become an honorary baron or found employment as a personal guard for a noble or wealthy merchant.

Even if he had a dirty past that prevented him from doing that, hunting a few monsters a month that were weaker than him in a Devil’s Nest or a Dungeon would surely earn him more than leading a group of thugs and extorting space fees from merchants.

Such a capable individual had suddenly appeared in this city, with no evidence of him having visited any other nearby city or village.

The ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael was an ominous person with an unknown background and far too much strength to be a mere boss of a group of thugs.

What was he planning to do after making contact with a mysterious Dhampir?

“According to someone who was hiding in the red-light district, he was seducing the Dhampir’s mother,” said the housekeeper.

“… I see, I see. So, he was merely flirting,” Isaac murmured. “Is there any reason to believe that this Vandalieu and the recently-appeared ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael knew each other before all of this?”

“No, it was Joseph-dono who ordered his food cart to be placed in the ‘Starving Wolf’s’ territory, so I do not believe that is the case.”

Isaac clicked his tongue. “My uncle.”

Isaac’s uncle Joseph, one of the Commerce Guild’s Deputy Guild Masters, was something of a nuisance to him.

They did not have a good relationship, but he was not worth going as far as to call an enemy. His everyday behavior was a little unpleasant, and often harassed union members that he did not like as much as he could without breaking any rules, but as such harassment was within the rules, he was not punished.

However, even though he could not be punished, it decreased his value within the Guild. That was why he could not rise to the position of Guild Master no matter how many years passed… though he did not have the suitable ability or capacity to do that anyway.

Joseph resented Isaac, under the impression that this was Isaac’s doing, which made their relationship worse. However, Isaac was not actually negatively affected by this in any way, and he could not create any excuses to punish him, so he had no choice but to leave him alone. This was the pointless spiral that their relationship was in.

“What is that damn raccoon thinking? It’s true that the boy is a commoner, even if he is a Dhampir, but… that is only true for the present. According to the records, they are a race that displays tremendous talent in adulthood, and His Excellency Duke Alcrem is an opportunist. He would surely want to maintain a good appearance for the renowned Five-colored Blades,” Isaac muttered. “Despite that, he has done something that will earn the hatred of the Dhampir. Has he not considered the possibility that his head will be the first to fly in several years’ time?”

Vandalieu was a commoner, but Joseph was also currently a commoner. With the authority of a duke, it would be possible to behead a commoner for a suitable crime, especially a commoner that was detested by those around him.

Isaac was leaving Joseph alone for the simple reason of not wanting to create a bad precedent of a realm’s lord meddling in the Deputy personnel affairs involving a Deputy Guild Master of a Guild in his city.

“I do not know what that man is thinking, but… perhaps he believes that the Five-colored Blades have perished inside the Dungeon. This is the second year that they have been inside it, after all,” said the housekeeper.

“Hmm… with that being the case, Alda’s peaceful faction’s influence becomes uncertain, too,” said Isaac.

“Also, please refrain from using the phrase ‘damn raccoon.’”

“Alright. But in the end, we don’t know anything about the boy. There’s no doubt that he’s planning something.”

It was absolutely certain that Vandalieu was planning something. There was some purpose to his series of movements beginning from his temporary registration at the Commerce Guild. But Isaac had no idea what it could possibly be.

However, it would be too careless to simply watch and wait until he learned something.

“For now, I shall have a knight hand him a letter from me. I will not become involved in the matter regarding my uncle; if the boy wishes for protection, make preparations as peacefully as possible,” Isaac ordered.

“But that would tell him that we have taken notice of him,” said the housekeeper.

“It would be stranger if we didn’t take notice of him. It does not seem that he is deliberately spreading the news that he is a Dhampir, but he has revealed his race at the Commerce Guild where my uncle works, after all,” said Isaac. “Continue the investigation, and just in case, tell the Adventurers’ Guild and Mages’ Guild to be on the lookout for Vampires. After that… we watch until something happens.”

“As you wish.”

“Now then, I shall return to bed –”

“Master, breakfast is ready. Your wife is waiting in the dining room.”

“… I suppose it can’t be helped. I shall get up.”

And so, Isaac Morksi’s day began.

A week had passed since Vandalieu’s food cart opened for business. He reconstructed his soul in his dreams, and operated his food cart while he was awake. On his days off, he would have Eleanora and the others teleported to the house for strategy meetings and dinner parties. And so, the days went by peacefully with no significant events occurring.

Meanwhile, the gods of Alda’s faction were observing his movements closely. Unable to understand his motives, they were utterly bewildered, and Murakami’s group was continuing to move towards the Alcrem Duchy.

In Talosheim, Luciliano had finished examining the new mutated races, including his own, and sent his reports through Melissa.

According to these, Dark Humans had more Mana than humans, and possessed the ‘Status Effect Resistance,’ ‘Rapid Regeneration’ and ‘Night Vision’ Skills. They had no particular weaknesses as a race.

The Dvergr also possessed more Mana than their Dwarf counterparts, as well as more Intelligence, and in addition to the inherent Skills that Dwarves were born with, Dvergr also possessed ‘Fire/Light Attribute Resistance.’

As for the Dark Beast-kin, it was thought that the entire race possessed ‘Beast Transformation,’ despite it being a Skill that was mainly possessed by Vampires and was rare for Beast-kin to have.

The ‘Beast Transformation’ Skill, which transformed the user from a humanoid form into a beast, provided enhanced Attribute Values and weapons in the forms of things like claws and fangs.

Since the only ones who had undergone the transformation were wolf-type Beast-kin girls, there were no other transformed Beast-kin other than Magic Wolf-type Beast-kin, so that was all that was known so far.

The lifespans and biology of the new races were unknown. It was unlikely that their lifespans were shorter than their original races, but it was possible that their reproductive capabilities would be slightly decreased.

Luciliano had concluded by saying that this would be known soon enough, as more people in Talosheim would undergo this mutation in the future.

Rather than worry about such details, what Vandalieu needed to do was announce to the citizens that there was a chance that each race could mutate, so that the nation wouldn’t fall into panic… Blood Potion which was commonplace within the Boundary Mountain Range and the Dark Continent, was made from his blood, which was undeniably a fragment of Vandalieu.

Considering that, anyone could undergo mutation, though the Blood Potion didn’t seem as likely to cause mutation compared to drinking Vandalieu’s unprocessed blood directly.

Among Vandalieu’s companions, he learned that Knochen and Bone Man, who had both absorbed Vandalieu’s fragments such as the Demon King’s bones, had undergone mutation as well.

Up until now, Knochen had to disassemble himself into a swarm of bones in order to fly, but he had now become able to fly with his bones in a structured form.

One might think that this was a small change, but it had given Knochen the ability to transport things that he did not previously have, and it was a big deal being able to move while maintaining the shape of a fortress or concert venue.

In the event of being surrounded by enemies or a natural disaster on the ground, Knochen could simply take its allies and fly into the sky.

On top of that… he had gained the unorthodox ability to form a massive, fortress-sized sphere with his bones and ram into targets at high speeds.

However, it was unlikely that he would want to do this, as it would damage his bones.

Bone Man had been focused on diligently improving his technique as a Rank 11 Skeleton Blade Lord, but his Rank had suddenly increased yesterday.

His Rank had increased, but… his race title had changed to ‘Skeleton Blade Emperor.’

“JUOOOH! What disrespect I have done to my lord! If I had a stomach, I would slice it open in shame!” he cried.

TLN: Bone Man is referring to seppuku/hara-kiri, a Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment performed by samurai after bringing shame upon themselves.

He recovered after Vandalieu talked some sense into him through a Demon King Familiar.

“It is nothing to be concerned about, you say… My lord exceeds the frame of an emperor. Juooh… I see!” he said.

Meanwhile, both of their divine protections from Vandalieu had all of their letters revealed. It seemed that Nuaza had already begun planning for an enormous statue of Vandalieu to be built in Talosheim’s Church.

Vandalieu wished that he could become an adult before Nuaza started building stone statues of him, but he gave up on this, as there was no telling how many decades this would take… though he had given the condition of specifying that they were stone statues, not divine statues.

As for Vandalieu’s private life, he had one new companion.

“What are you going to name it, Vandalieu?” Darcia asked, smiling at the dog and stroking its thin back as it busily ate some dried meat that had been boiled to soften it and remove the salt.

She had skipped over the usual questions that a parent would normally ask in this situation, such as “Why did you bring it here?” and “Are you really going to be able to take care of it?” The reason for that was –

“Wow, amazing! It’s an ordinary dog!” exclaimed Rita.

“For Bocchan to bring home an ordinary dog that isn’t a spirit, Undead or monster… I never thought that such a day would come,” said Saria.

The reason for that was clearly shown in Rita and Saria’s words.

“Even I can pick up a normal dog… though I originally intended to use a rat,” said Vandalieu.

He had picked up this dog from behind the house for an experiment. Previously, animals born to one Undead or one living parent, or two Undead parents, had mutated into monsters just by licking a little spilled Blood Potion before he acquired the ‘Bestower’ Job.

So then, now that Vandalieu had become a ‘Bestower,’ what would happen if he raised an ordinary animal not in the semi-Devil’s Nest that was Talosheim, but in an ordinary human settlement, here in the city of Morksi?

Vandalieu wanted to find out.

Also, if he was able to tame it, he thought that it might not be a bad idea to register at the Tamers’ Guild.

“In other words, you couldn’t bring yourself to abandon a starving dog within reach,” said Chipuras.

“Ugh, you’ve seen through me, Chipuras,” said Vandalieu.

“This dog was very lucky. Make sure you eat properly and grow big,” Princess Levia told the dog.

“It’s so thin… By the way, is it alright for a dog of this age to be eating meat?” asked Orbia.

“… Princess, Orbia-neesan, I think this dog is an adult,” said Kimberley.

“I welcome you, my new brethren. All is according to Vandalieu’s will,” said Gufadgarn.

As the dog ate meat for the first time in a long time under the gaze of the noisy group around him, it felt both at ease and nervous.

The thing that made it feel at ease was that there wasn’t a single human in the house. There were Undead, an evil god and an incarnation of a goddess; to the dog, all of them were beings that were not people.

The thing that made it nervous was that it could sense something watching and evaluating it through Vandalieu.

The source of this gaze was the group equipped inside Vandalieu, such as Eisen, Quinn, Pete, and Kühl.

The dog was strongly aware that it had been placed at the lowest position of a hierarchy.

“About his name… It would be easy to name him ‘Hai’ or ‘Gray’ after the color of his fur…” said Vandalieu.

TLN: 灰/Hai is ‘gray’ in Japanese.

Having finished eating the dried meat, the gray-furred dog looked up at Vandalieu as he seemed to come to a decision.

“Since it gave me a playful bite as soon as it met me, let’s call it ‘Fang,’” he said.

The dog, now named Fang, gave a small whimper.

A week after the business opened, it was going surprisingly well. The customers were the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael (AKA Miles) and his subordinates, but there were also sometimes customers who came from the main street, drawn by the smell.

There were even customers who were high-class prostitutes from high-class brothels and patrons of high-class bars, who would normally never have anything to do with food carts.

… Well, many of them came to buy skewers as an excuse to see the woman who had been seduced by the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael.

It seemed that the women who were trying to court Michael because he was the ruler of the underworld, as well as the owners of stores that were trying to maintain a good relationship with him, were interested in Darcia, the woman who was rumored to have been seduced by him.

There were even some women who took the effort to come to Darcia and say unpleasant things to her.

“So, you’re the one… Hmph!” one such woman said.

“Don’t get too full of yourself. A woman who has baggage with her isn’t good enough for him,” said another.

“Well, it seems that the rumors have already spread. Michael-san is more popular with the ladies than I thought,” said Darcia.

“Hello, I’m the baggage. If you aren’t going to order anything, could you please not stand directly in front of the food cart?” Vandalieu said to the women.

Of course, Darcia and Vandalieu didn’t take them seriously, and though they were a little cautious, they didn’t need to pay them any more attention than that.

But there was one woman, who seemed to be a female bouncer, who was a little different.

“You should listen and just disappear –” she began, but she suddenly stopped mid-sentence. “No, it’s nothing. Excuse me,” she said, and then she fled.

It was likely that she possessed the ‘Intuition’ Skill. She had potential, so Vandalieu reported her appearance to Miles.

There was another problematic… or rather, mistaken, customer. He appeared to be a rich upstart, and he had two bodyguards with him, one on either side.

“How much?” he asked.

“One skewer is five Baums,” Vandalieu replied.

“I see. And what is the additional charge to buy her?” the man asked, stroking his chin with a hand that was wearing many jeweled gold rings.

“Eh, me?” said Darcia, blinking in confusion.

“Indeed. This is some kind of secret office for prostitutes, isn’t it? Have a woman at the food cart, pretending to be a vendor, and have customers pay an additional fee to buy her along with their skewers. If that weren’t the case, there’s no way a fine woman like you would be working as a vendor at some poor food cart,” the man said, seeming proud of himself as the corners of his mouth rose in a sleazy smile. “Now then, name your price,” he said, reaching out to grab Darcia’s shoulder.

But before his hand could reach her, Fang, who had become the food cart’s guard dog, growled at him.

“What the hell is this filthy mutt doing here?” the upstart shouted, having only taken notice of the thin and scrawny Fang for the first time. “Hey, get the hell out of the way…”

And in the next moment, he suddenly turned completely pale, let out a terrified scream and ran away as fast as he possibly could.

“Huh?! Master, what’s the matter?!” one of the upstart’s bodyguards shouted.

“W-wait!” said the other.

Standing in front of Vandalieu, Fang looked proud of himself.

“Did you use your ‘Mental Encroachment’ Skill?” Darcia asked as she watched the bodyguards hastily chase after the upstart.

“No, using ‘Mental Encroachment’ would probably leave some permanent effects, so I just stared at him while using ‘Demon King’s Demon Eyes,’” said Vandalieu.

He had gained a Skill by acquiring the fragment known as the Demon King’s Demon Eyes. If targeted on land, it had the effect of contaminating it with Mana, and if targeted on a living creature, it caused fear in it.

This had likely been a very convenient ability for the Demon King Guduranis. He had been able to spread monster-spawning Devil’s Nests across the world by gazing at it, and destroy the fighting spirits of most humans who opposed him with a single glance.

But to Vandalieu, it was not as useful. He didn’t particularly want to spread Devil’s Nests, and although the fear effect was very strong against ordinary humans, it did not affect adventurers who possessed a certain amount of ability; it would certainly not work against the Five-colored Blades.

Vandalieu had used the Demon Eyes on the upstart because it would have taken too much effort to talk him down.

“He didn’t look like the type to listen to people, and it didn’t seem like he knew about the ‘Starving Wolf’ Michael… and I thought that if I used the Demon Eyes, nobody would notice,” said Vandalieu.

Indeed, the people in the back alley had been surprised by the upstart’s scream, but none of them had noticed Vandalieu’s use of the Demon Eyes.

They were snickering at the pathetic rich boy, who seemed to be scared to death of dogs.

“But if you don’t hold back, it might become a kind of trauma for the people you use it on,” said Darcia.

“I half-closed my eyes when I looked at him… It’s quite hard,” said Vandalieu.

“Well, it’s fine. I’m sure it was good for him.”

It did indeed seem to have been good for the upstart; Vandalieu and Darcia never saw him in the red-light district again.

On the second day after the food cart opened, two knights employed by Earl Morksi came to the food cart and handed Vandalieu a letter from the earl. It was an offer of protection, but Vandalieu politely declined and sent the knights away.

“Why did he send messengers while monitoring us?” Orbia wondered.

“Orbia, there’s no guarantee that the people staking us out are spies for the earl,” said Vandalieu.

“Yes there is. The only one who’d send living, human, well-trained spies to watch us is the lord of the region.”

“It’s too early for it to be the person called Murakami and his group, and considering that Birkyne knows your strength, he would probably have sent stronger spies. I think Orbia-san is right,” said Darcia.

“I see… Well, we’ll leave them be. Just be careful not to let them into the house,” said Vandalieu.

In fact, Isaac Morksi had already sent spies to Vandalieu’s house, but… they had retreated, as they had been unable to pick the locks. Vandalieu had turned the entire house, including the doors and locks, into Golems.

No matter how masterful the spies were at lockpicking, there was no way to open locks that consciously changed their internal structures on their own, unless they were to break the locks and doors to enter by force.

Of course, even if they had entered the house, they would be helplessly captured or killed by Rita and Saria, so this was fortunate for the spies.

Because of such good fortune and because Vandalieu did not want conflict with the earl’s family even if it were kept secret, the earl’s spies were all still alive and well.

And on the food cart’s third day of business, the priestess of Vida and the priest of Alda, who had recovered from the incident that occurred several days previously, came from the Communal Church to visit the food cart. They wished to protect the Dhampir and his mother; though they were polite in tone, they were more fanatical in their attempts to persuade Vandalieu than the knights had been.

“Though this may be rude to the people who live here, this place is dangerous. It seems that the recently-appeared thug known as the ‘Starving Wolf’ has set his eyes on this place… There is no telling when villains and the assassins of Vampires will approach,” said Alda’s priest. “You must receive the protection from our Church.”

Of course, Vandalieu politely declined.

However, there was an unexpected development with the priestess of Vida.

“Please come and give a sermon, just once! Learning of a Dark Elf’s religious beliefs will be a good opportunity to broaden the minds of the believers… no, the people!” she said.

“No, I wasn’t particularly involved in religious services in my settlement,” said Darcia.

“Please do not be so reserved! I beg you!” the priestess pleaded.

“E-even if you say that…”

Perhaps sensing something in Darcia, who was the incarnation of Vida, she was passionately begging for her to give a sermon.

Darcia had no experience in ordinary sermons, but she couldn’t exactly hold a solo concert in the Communal Church either. She was trying her best to refuse, but the priestess wouldn’t give up.

“W-what should I do? Would it be alright for me to just talk?” Darcia wondered.

“I think it’s alright. You’ll be fine,” said Vandalieu.

Darcia was overwhelmed by the priestess’s persistence, and so it was decided that she would give a sermon at the Communal Church. If she could increase the people’s belief in Vida in this city and convert more people to become believers, it was likely that she could slightly speed up the recovery of Vida in her Resting Grounds.

And although Vandalieu had declined the offer of protection, it was a good thing to make more allies within the city of Morksi.

On the fourth day of the food cart’s business, there was a small bit of trouble where a boy of about the same age as Vandalieu attempted to steal the food cart’s money, but was stopped by Fang.

“Why did you go out of your way to try to steal from us, even though we have a guard dog?” Darcia asked him.

“I thought it would be easy to steal from a skinny dog, a naïve woman and a spaced-out child!” the boy shouted.

Apparently, that’s how it was.

But during this conversation, a nun from an orphanage came looking for the boy.

“I’m sorry, this boy ran away from the orphanage and did such a thing…” she apologized.

“I already wrote that I want to leave the orphanage! I’m ten, so I can do work on my own. I won’t be in your care!” the boy said defiantly.

“You can’t expect anyone to read letters that look like wriggling earthworms that you scribbled on a wall! And stealing isn’t work!” the nun said, scolding him.

The donations to the orphanage had become scarce, causing the nun to be unable to feed the children satisfactorily for some time. It seemed that the boy had chosen to reduce the number of mouths that needed to be fed by leaving the orphanage.

It was a respectable thing to do, but it was also reckless. The nun apologized profusely over and over, and then took the boy away.

“Mom, I want to go and make a donation to the orphanage tomorrow. A box with Vida’s holy symbol on it, filled with food,” Vandalieu murmured as he watched them leave.

“Yes, that’s a good idea… Come to think of it, I wonder if they believe in any gods?” said Darcia. “The girl who came to pick the boy up seemed to be a nun.”

There were also several instances of the guard named Aggar who had extorted a bribe from Vandalieu visiting the food cart, attempting to approach Darcia in particular. But each time, he was glared at by Miles and his subordinates, forcing him to retreat.

Kest, the honest rookie guard, visited once and bought a single skewer.

“I understand your situation, so as a guard, I’ll just say one thing. Don’t lie too much,” he said, giving Vandalieu a light warning.

And so, a week passed, and Vandalieu’s plan was going mostly smoothly other than the fact that neither Murakami or Birkyne had been detected by his information networks.

Darcia’s sermon and Vandalieu’s donation to the orphanage were unrelated to his original goal, but these opportunities to create more believers of Vida were an unexpected blessing.

And on the eighth day of the food cart being open, the reconstruction of Vandalieu’s soul was completed. Before going to restock on meat, he headed to the Tamers’ Guild, accompanied by his tamed companion Fang.

Name: Bone Man
Rank: 12
Race: Skeleton Blade Emperor
Level: 0
Passive skills:
Dark Vision
Monstrous Strength: Level 2 (Awakened from Superhuman Strength!)
Strengthened Attribute Values: Loyalty: Level 10
Spirit Form: Level 10 (LEVEL UP!)
Strengthened Attribute Values: Mounted: Level 7 (LEVEL UP!)
Self-Enhancement: Creator: Level 6 (LEVEL UP!)
Self-Enhancement: Guidance: Level 5 (LEVEL UP!)
Physical Resistance: Level 2
Murder Healing: Level 3 (NEW!)
Strengthened Attribute Values: Ruling: Level 3 (NEW!)
Enhanced Body Part: Bones: Level 5 (NEW!)
Active skills:
Hollow Bone Swordsmanship: Level 4 (LEVEL UP!)
Shield Technique: Level 10 (LEVEL UP!)
Archery: Level 8 (LEVEL UP!)
Silent Steps: Level 3
Coordination: Level 9 (LEVEL UP!)
Commanding: Level 5 (LEVEL UP!)
Armor Technique: Level 9 (LEVEL UP!)
Mount: Level 7 (LEVEL UP!)
Long-distance Control: Level 10 (LEVEL UP!)
Aura of Fear: Level 5 (LEVEL UP!)
Parallel Thought Processing: Level 5 (LEVEL UP!)
Surpass Limits: Level 5 (LEVEL UP!)
Unique skills:
Bone Blades
Xerx’s Divine Protection
Vandalieu’s Divine Protection

Monster explanation:

Skeleton Blade Emperor

‘Skeleton Emperor’ is the highest confirmed race of Skeleton-type monster… and Skeleton Blade Emperor is one Rank above that.

It is a fearsome Skeleton Emperor that commands Skeleton-type Undead. However, Bone Man’s master Vandalieu is an emperor, and Bone Man serves as his knight.

Thus, he does not try to command and rule over Skeleton-type Undead. In the past, he had commanded the Undead army in the former Scylla territory, but it was apparently quite the shock for him to become an ‘Emperor.’

Standing deeper in the frontlines of any battle other than his companion Knochen, he wields his blade fervently in order to increase his Rank and acquire a different race title.

Naturally, this race is a new race to Lambda.

 

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